The Compulsive Reader: October 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween Spooktacular: Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link

Since we're on the anthology kick (I just love them--they're great if you need a quick read, or just want to try out a new author before buying their novels), here's another book of short stories, all written by Kelly Link, called Pretty Monsters.

In her new collection of stories, Kelly Link gives readers a wide array of spooky, ironic, and sometimes downright funny short stories that will make them shiver--from Miles's accidental excavation of the wrong girl's grave when he sets about to dig up poems placed in his dead girlfriend's casket, to the terrifying and tech savvy monster who terrorizes a summer camp.

Link's style ranges from quirky to gruesome to downright creepy, and her collection offers a little something for everyone with a unique and highly imaginative quality. Since the content of the book is so varied, some readers might have a little trouble sticking it out through all the stories, but Link's characters are very relatable despite the strange circumstances the find themselves in. However, perhaps the best part about these stories is Link's talent for deceiving twists and surprise endings, which make each and every story all the more enjoyable--and startling.

Remember, be sure to enter this week's Halloween contest!

October Book of the Month: An In Your Room Playlist

Happy Thursday everyone!

We interrupt this week's Halloween Spooktacular feature to bring you the last tidbit of October's BotM feature:

Music plays a bit of a role in this month's book, In Your Room, so I asked Jordanna Fraiberg if she'd share with us her In Your Room Playlist. Here's what she came up with:

This is a playlist of songs that inspired me while writing In Your Room and/or are featured in it. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

1. Such Great Heights (The Postal Service)
2. Together (The Raconteurs)
3. Digital Love (Daft Punk)
4. Reckoner (Radiohead)
5. Synchronicity (The Police)
6. Breathe me (Sia)
7. I Feel it All (Feist)
8. Brand New Colony (The Postal Service)
9. Hide and Seek (Imogen Heap)
10. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) (The Arcade Fire)
11. Viva La Vida (Coldplay)
12. The Predatory Wasp of the Palisades (Sufjan Stevens)
13. No One (Alicia Keys)
14. Yellow (Coldplay)

Thanks Jordanna! And thanks so much for taking the time to visit with us this month (and for letting me try my movie-making skills on your book!)! It was loads of fun!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween Spooktacular: Witch High by Various Authors

For most teens, high school is hard enough without the added stress of magical elements thrown into the mix. But the teens at Salem Public High School #4 not only have to deal with the ins and outs of normal class work, but the additional studying that comes with being a witch as well. You think you can barely stand regular chemistry? Try taking Elemental Chemistry when you can even control your own powers. Not enough time in the day to study for those pesky midterms? Why, there's a spell for that. Don't like the cafeteria's food? Go ahead and transform it—at your own detriment. In a place where nearly anything is possible, a lively time is sure to be had.

Witch High is an absorbing anthology full of fourteen short stories that range from humorous to foreboding, and snarky to heart wrenching. Each story depicts the life of a different person, most of them students, with a couple members of the faculty and staff, and each vary widely. Many of the stories are quite short, giving the reader a slightly rushed impression, and those with an attention for details may be bothered by the occasional contradiction of facts and details between stories. However, if readers can get past those minor faults, they're in for a fun and candid glimpse into an exciting and magical world.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Memorist by M.J. Rose

As part of M.J. Rose's blog tour, and a bit of an unusual and thrilling contribution to this week's Halloween Spooktacular event, here's a review of The Memorist.

Meer is plagued by snatches of memories, "dreads" that seem familiar but seem to be without a source, and always present with strange and perplexing music. But when she encounters a strange letter, Meer is compelled to travel Vienna, Austria, tantalized by the opportunity to uncover the real reasons behind these dreads. She uncovers a mysterious reincarnationist community and learns of a man named David, who lost his family at the hands of terrorists, and is bent on ensuring that their deaths not be forgotten through violent acts of his own…

The Memorist is an exciting and highly suspenseful book readers won't be able to shake easily. A combination of past and present, history, and elements of mystery, Rose has crafted an unconventional thriller that will not only entertain, but will make you think. The gripping and wonderfully candid style makes it easy to become immersed into the plot, and Rose cleverly gives readers little glimpses into Meer's past lives and reveals the actions of other characters while keeping her main character ignorant, resulting in a gripping and well drawn out read with an explosive ending that will remind readers to not forget the past lest it haunt them in the days yet to come.

MJ's website: http://www.mjrose.com/content/index.asp
Read an excerpt here: http://www.mjrose.com/books/memorist.asp?BookVar=Excerpt

Buying info:


Video Trailer

Sign up form for MJ's newsletter with info about new releases, free book downloads, contests, etc.: http://list-manage.com/subscribe?u=19a710cad82d4c29b3557871d&id=234093c27c

TLC Tours: http://tlcbooktours.wordpress.com/2008/08/28/mj-rose-author-of-the-memorist-on-tour-octnov-2008/

PLUS (last like, I promise!), MJ is giving away a copy of her other book, The Reincarnationist! Go here.

(P.S. Sorry about the lack of posts! My automatic posting thing went haywire! I'm catching up right now!)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween Spooktacular: Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

Okay, so we've all heard a little bit of the history and myths surrounding Halloween, or Samhain if you want to get really technical. It's supposedly the one night a year that all the spooks and creepy things escape into our world, wreaking havoc, thus inspiring mere mortals to dress up, which snowballed into an entire holiday filled with candy and costumes and scary movies, oh my!
Okay, but my point is, here's a book that is all about what actually happens when those spooks and creepy things are set loose in New York City! And while the book isn't technically out yet (waiting sucks, I know), you should know about it and then put it on your Christmas lists, because it's pure awesomeness, and its author is AMAZING!

Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston!

Kelley is a young actress, trying to make ends meet working as a stage hand and understudy in a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in New York City. One night while practicing her lines in Central Park, she meets Sonny, who, unbeknownst to the mortal world, guards the Samhain Gate to the
Sonny senses immediately that there is something different about Kelley, but is unable to pinpoint what it is. He is inexplicably drawn to her, much to her dismay, and Kelley refuses to believe his ridiculous claims that she is not of this world. Soon the truth comes comes out though, putting Kelley and Sonny into more danger than they could have ever foreseen...
Wondrous Strange is a beguiling read. It combines the excitement of stage life, the diversity of New York City, and the thrill of magic to pull insistently at the reader until they fully succumb to this romantic and dangerous read. Kelley is your likable, average heroine who's just trying to get by on her own, and her practicality and wit punctuate the story with a modern and full-of-attitude flair.
The plot is well drawn out, and the balance between the fantastical elements and moments of reality is perfect. Some more critical readers might feel as though Kelley's acceptance of her role in the Otherworld is a bit rushed, but Livingston's convincing voice and attitude-filled characters will quickly overwhelm any lingering doubtful feelings. Wondrous Strange is a stirring and adventurous book with wry humor, colorful and expressive characters, and an unbelievably addictive quality.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Spooktacular: Love is Hell

Do you like to keep your reads short and spooky? Well, you're in luck--HarperTeen has compiled two great anthologies of paranormal stories by some of the best YA authors (Stephenie Meyer, Scott Westerfeld, Melissa Marr, Meg Cabot) out there--with a romantic twist.

Prom Nights From Hell by Meg Cabot, Michele Jaffe, Stephenie Meyer, Lauren Myracle, and Kim Harrison

In this exciting collection, bestselling authors Meg Cabot (How to Be Popular), Kim Harrison (A Fistful of Charms), Michele Jaffe (Bad Kitty), Stephenie Meyer (Twilight), and Lauren Myracle (ttyl) take bad prom nights to a whole new level—a paranormally bad level. Wardrobe malfunctions and two left feet don't hold a candle to discovering your date is the Grim Reaper—and he isn't here to tell you how hot you look.

From angels fighting demons to a creepy take on getting what you wish for, these five stories will entertain better than any DJ in a bad tux. No corsage or limo rental necessary. Just good, scary fun.

Love is Hell by Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Laurie Faria Stolarz, Melissa Marr, and Gabrielle Zevin

Sure, love is hell. But it's totally worth it.

In these supernatural stories by five of today's hottest writers—Melissa Marr (Wicked Lovely), Scott Westerfeld (Specials), Justine Larbalestier (Magic or Madness), Gabrielle Zevin (Elsewhere), and Laurie Faria Stolarz (Blue is for Nightmares)—love may be twisted and turned around, but it's more potent than ever on its quest to conquer all.

From two students who let the power of attraction guide them to break the hard-and-fast rules of their world to the girl who falls hard for a good-looking ghost with a score to settle, the clever, quirky characters in this exciting collection will break your heart, then leave you believing in love more than ever.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Halloween Spooktacular


I am in the scaring mood this week...Halloween is big where I come from, and to celebrate, I'll be sharing a book a day that will get you in just the right mood for Friday night, whether you plan on going to a party, trick or treating, or just snuggling up under some blankets with candy and a scary movie (or book!).

What's the one thing most people associate with Halloween (besides candy!)? Witches, of course. And in Amanda Marrone's newest book, a band of teen witches must battle an ancient evil that threatens all that they stand for. Read on to learn more...
Nestled in a regular Connecticut community is a coven of witches that have been keeping their area safe from werewolves, vampires, and demons for hundreds of years. For the youngest generation of the coven—Sascha, Margo, Zahara, Dani, and Jules—this is their life, and though they wish for a little more freedom, they recognize their responsibility.

They are all eager for their eighteenth birthdays, when they will be initiated into the inner circle of their coven along with their mothers and learn all of the coven's secrets. But as their birthdays start to pass by, Jules—the youngest of the witches—begins to realize that there is more going on in the coven than what their mothers are letting on, and her friends can't talk about—something that she's finding that she can't condone.
Click here to read the full review.
BUT WAIT! There's more...this week I'll be giving away a copy of Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz and Tithe by Holly Black to celebrate! For a chance to win, just email me (thecompulsivereader@gmail.com) your name, address, email, and tell me your best costume idea ever. And at midnight, Halloween night, I'll post the winner!
Good luck and happy (spooky) reading!

Along for the Ride Cover Revealed!

I just found the cover for Sarah Dessen's upcoming novel, Along for the Ride. Isn't it beautiful? I have to admit, I do like it a bit better than the cover of Lock and Key...the bicycle is just too cool. Yet another book to add the gigantic wish list...

Aurelia by Anne Osterlund Book Trailer

I just can't stop myself...please do tell me what you think of this trailer for Aurelia by Anne Osterlund.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

October Book of the Month: An Interview with Jordanna Fraiberg

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Today Jordanna Fraiberg, author of our Book of the Month, In Your Room, was kind enough to sit down and take a moment to answer a few questions about her debut novel.

How did you come about the idea for the premise of In Your Room?

I came up with the premise during the first five minutes of watching the first Sisterhood movie. I had not yet read the books, but at the time I was still a film exec, so from that perspective, I was wondering how they were going to pull off the movie while all four main characters are mostly apart (we were actually just about to hire the director for another project, which is why I was watching it). That's when all of a sudden I wondered how two strangers could fall in love while being apart and living in each other's rooms. I pitched the idea to my agent, the fabulous Kate Lee, who loved the idea so that's how it all started.

Do you have any talent for making clothes like Molly?

I wish I had that talent! One of my close friends, Mireille, used to make her own clothes in high school. I was always so impressed with how effortlessly she pulled off her unique style, and how confident she was doing so, just like Molly. When I was in India during my junior year of college for a semester abroad, my friend Maggie and I used to visit this local tailor every day and bring him designs we drew in our journals. We'd choose the fabric and within a day or two, we had our brand new garment for practically pennies in US currency. I can't say I was talented, but it was so much fun. It was also an excuse for us to practice the Hindi we were learning while we were there with the tailor and his family who lived behind the shop.

What was one of your favorite books when you were a teen?

The Judy Blume books. Blubber and Are You There God? It's Me Margaret are the top contenders. I also loved Lord of the Flies. It was the first book where I learned about symbolism in a meaningful way.

Do you have any weird "writing quirks" you'd be willing to share?

Is procrastination a quirk? if so, I have it in spades. Sometimes it feels like ideas are ballooning in my head, and it's like they're ready to burst unless I sit down and spew them out. I like to experiment with my schedule, but ultimately, as long as I get a certain word count in a day, it doesn't always matter when or where I write. I go through long stretches of writing in my home office. Other times I go to coffee shops. Sometimes it will be the same one for an extended period; sometimes I'll do a coffee shop "tour" and go to a different one every day to experience different parts of LA. I try to have a mix of inspiration and discipline.

What are you writing now?

I'm writing a new YA novel for Razorbill, with a (hopefullyl!) juicy love story at its center.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Heal the sick to get rid of disease.

What are you going to be for Halloween?

Good question. I usually figure it out on the day itself, which either leads to great inspiration (the time I was a fortune teller and met my future husband four years ago!) or a total flop (the time I dressed up as a beatnik, replete with black turtle neck, beret and fake beauty mark and NOBODY knew who I was! although I was the only warm female at the outdoor party, that's for sure, and it was worth it!)

What was the hardest aspect of writing In Your Room? What was the easiest?

The hardest part was getting the first draft down on paper and writing through the story. I think it was especially difficult because I was really nervous that my editor was going to hate it, since Razorbill bought the book off a partial manuscript. Once I got the first draft done, it was much easier having it to work from. I had such amazing guidance and support from Razorbill, so once I relaxed, it became a really joyful process honing the story and really finding the love and connection between Molly and Charlie. It's sometimes easy to forget that the best part about writing is what you discover along the way.

Anything I didn't ask that you wish I had?

Nothing, these were great questions!

Thanks so much, Jordanna!

Now, some of you may have noticed a rather lack of posts lately...that's because I've been experimenting with making book trailers, which is actually surprisingly easy once you get the hang of it. Anyways, my first attempt was to make a trailer for In Your Room. There are a few flaws (like the type, which was easy to see in the program, is now a bit hard to see in the video), but for the most part, I'm happy with it. Let me know what you think about, and if anyone has any tips, I'd really appreciate hearing them!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ever by Gail Carson Levine

Kezi lives in the city of Hyte, with her Mati and Pado, and spends her days weaving and dancing and worshipping the all powerful god Admat. Olus lives in Akka, the land of the gods, and is the god of the wind and loneliness. He sets out to Hyte to live among the mortals, where he meets Kezi. He is inexplicably drawn to her, and their bond is forged when Kezi is promised to be sacrificed to Admat. Olus is determined to save her, and reveals his true self to her. Together, they set out to change their destiny.

Gail Carson Levine creates in Ever a completely different world from the one that her heroines from Ella Enchanted and Fairest live, with a new set of rules and gods and cultures, packing in as much information and details without giving the reader a sensory overload. The story moves rapidly, and is wonderfully simple and magical at the same time. Levine's trademark spunk and determination shine through in Kezi as she struggles to become a heroine and finds a way to survive.

The romance between Olus and Kezi is kept simple and chaste, and is a bit rushed, but pitched perfectly for younger readers. However, the religious ponderings and question concerning the existence of Admat will be very relevant to older readers, and does well in engaging them as well. Once again, Levine has woven another magical tale that will enchant readers of all ages.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Top 8 by Katie Finn

You can tell just by glancing at Madison MacDonald's Friendverse page that her life is pretty fantastic. She's got two best friends, a great new boyfriend, the lead role in the school play, and she's headed to the Galapagos Islands for Spring Break.

But when she comes back, she gets a major shock when she finds that everyone hates her--all because her Friendverse profile was hacked, her boyfriend is now her ex, and everyone's dirty secrets spilled. Mad is nothing but resilient, and with the aid of her friends and perhaps even the cute guy she met on vacation, she sets out to find out who hacked her--with some surprising results.

Teens who are addicts to Facebook and MySpace won't help but empathize with Mad and the "horror" of being hacked. The novel, despite the drama of hurtful rumors and gossip, maintains a pretty light tone, and is full of humor and angst. Readers may feel apprehension towards Mad's somewhat pretentious ways, but they won't be able to keep themselves for cherring for her as she becomes aware of the pain her whispered words carry when written for everyone to see, and begins to realize what some people truly think of her.

Also reviewed for Book Divas.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fun Friday: Enter the Teens Talk Giveaway!

Hey guys,

Happy Friday! Be sure to enter the Teens Talk Giveaway, which will run until next week. There will be four winners, so more chances to win! Good luck!

Read a good book this weekend,


Thursday, October 16, 2008

October Book of the Month: Guest Blog from Jordanna Fraiberg: Day of Firsts

day of firsts
Hello readers!
I'm so honored to be a guest blogger on this fabulous site. It's especially exciting because today is publication day. Woo hoo!
Not only is it my first time experiencing publication day, but this is my very first guest blog post. Wish me luck. On both fronts.
So, friends. What shall we discuss? I was thinking for starters, I can take you through the lead up to the BIG DAY. Or at least my process. Which is more like a roller coaster than a process. Here's how it goes:
Part 1
1. Sell book based on partial manuscript. OMG. OMG. Dream come true.
2. Oh crap. Sold book on partial manuscript. Now must complete book.
3. Figure out how to complete said manuscript while working long hours at another job. It can only take a miracle.
4. After much effort, finally type "the end," hit "save," and send first draft to editor several weeks past the deadline.
5. Realize I hit send and cannot take it back.
6. Remember that book was sold as a partial. Panic. They might hate it.
7. Go on much needed vacation and forget about it.
8. Receive wonderful, encouraging, not-at-all scary notes from my amazing editor.
9. Get back to work.
10. Finish several rounds of revisions.
11. Go through copy edits and final proof.
12. Wait for publication
Here's where Part 2 kicks in.
Months and months go by and then, all of a sudden, publication day is almost here. I've spent the last few days preparing myself for what I've been told is the anti-climax of the big day. So I've been downplaying it all to myself, thinking it's just a day like any other. No big deal.
But you know what? It is a big deal. I woke up in the best mood and it feels great. It feels kind of like it's your birthday, only instead of presents, you get the most amazingly sweet and supportive emails from friends and family and readers.

I haven't seen the book on shelves yet, and I'm sure it will be great when I do. But the thing that feels so good is that this really is a dream come true after many years of hard and consistent (and sometimes not-so-consistent) work. It's something you feel internally when you know you're on the right path, doing what you love.
My point in sharing this is to really say just that: do what you love. Whether it's going for walks, painting, listening to music, reading, playing a sport. Whatever it is, the more you do the things you love in life, the more you'll connect to yourself -- your true self. And there's nothing like that feeling of knowing you're being true to who you are, feeding that part of yourself, dare I even say, your soul?
I know this because writing is my current path, but not my first. I have learned that no matter what you do and where you go, you can always hold on to that part of yourself and find ways to connect to it.
Happy reading and I would love to hear from you!

Help Yourself Out

Jordanna Fraiberg's guest blog got delayed until tomorrow, so check back them for that, but until them, here's a very helpful book about stress and peer pressure:

Are you getting the mid-fall blues? Schoolwork overwhelming you? Well, here's a book for you.

Peer pressure: we all know about it. If you haven't experienced it yourself, then you've most certainly heard it being rehashed by parents, teachers, and counselors for ages. And most everyone knows firsthand how peer pressure can be a confusing thing--it can make us doubt our beliefs when it comes to sex, drugs, alcohol, cheating, and stealing, and cause rifts between teens and parents.

Here's where Dr. Lisa Medoff's Stressed Out Student's Guide to Handling Peer Pressure comes in. She's written a book that sorts everything out, and gives a whole new perspective on the issues. Her advice is frank, truthful, and very sensible, and gives both teens and parents a comprehensive view from both perspectives. Dr. Medoff's advice may seem slightly preachy, but she has a way of knowing exactly how teens feel, and her accurate facts and helpful strategies makes her guide invaluable--Stressed Out Student's Guide to Handling Peer Pressure is a very effective and highly useful read.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Dear Julia by Amy Bronwen Zemser

On the outside, Elaine is quiet, painfully shy, and proper; the result of living her life in her mother's shadow and burdened by her expectations. But there is one thing that sets Elaine apart, and that is her magnificent talent for French cuisine. She dreams of following in the footsteps of her idol, Julia Child, and attending Cordon Bleu in Paris. But her politician-feminist mother is aghast to learn that her daughter would aspire to fill the role of such a classic "women's job" and Elaine's dreams threaten to fade into nonexistence. Enter Lucida Sans. No, not the type face, but the eccentric, fame seeking, and enthusiastic girl—just the friend Elaine needs to bring out her true potential.

One word comes to mind when describing Dear Julia, and that is quirky. The entire novel is written in a very old fashioned, humorous, and charming style, but yet it works surprisingly well with the more modern influences of the book. Each and every character in unique and completely intriguing—from Elaine's cross-dressing brother, to the eccentric and lively Lucida Sans—and will provide more than a few laughs throughout the course of the plot. The story is richly filled with cooking vernacular and French phrases that may confuse the common reader, but Elaine's patient and very educational nature will ensure that the book doesn't become a drag. Dear Julia is a fun, feel-good read that is quick to amuse and inspire.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Forest of Hands and Teeth Widget Countdown

I think I may have mentioned a few times on this blog that I am not particularly tech-savvy. I know how to update Blogger, defrag my computer, do picture text messaging, and that is about it.

So the fact that I made this widget, all by myself, is something to marvel at. Granted, it's not nearly as nic as most out there, but I am proud of it nonetheless. Also, I really want this book. I'm burning for it, no exaggeration. The release date of The Forest of Hands and Teeth will be an epic day.

Teens Talk

I want to talk today about some really neat books out from the people who do Chicken Soup for the Soul books, written especially for teens. They've come out with a special series of books called Teens Talk, and three of the books so far are: Teens Talk Growing Up, Teens Talk Relationships, and Teens Talk Tough Times. Each book contains 101 of the best stories that Chicken Soup for the Soul could find, and are full of insight, humor, wisdom, and a lot of emotion. And today, I have a special exceprt for you from Teens Talk Tough Times.

Already Perfect

Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds
sang except those that sang best.
~ Henry van Dyke

Everyone can identify with the need to fit in. Each one of us
struggles with self-esteem and self-worth to some degree. I spent
much of my time striving to achieve perfection in every aspect of my
life. What I did not realize was that in my desperate need to be
perfect, I sacrificed the very body and mind that allowed me to live.
I was a happy kid with lots of friends and a supportive family. But
growing up was really hard and even scary sometimes.

During my childhood, I was constantly involved in something that
included an audience viewing my achievements or my failures. I was
into acting by age seven, and progressed to training for and competing
in gymnastics, horseback riding and dance - - all of which required
major commitment, discipline and strength. My personality thrived on
the high energy required to keep up. I wanted everyone’s praise and
acceptance, but I was my own toughest critic.

After I graduated from high school and moved out on my own, my
struggles with self-esteem and happiness increased. I began to put
pressure on myself to succeed in the adult world. Meanwhile, I was
feeling very inadequate and unsuccessful. I started to believe that my
difficulties and what I perceived to be my “failures” in life were
caused by my weight. I had always been a thin-to-average sized
person. Suddenly, I was convinced that I was overweight. In my
mind, I was FAT!

Slowly, my inability to be “thin” began to torture me. I found myself
involved in competition again. But this time, I was competing against
myself. I began to control my food by trying to diet, but nothing
seemed to work. My mind became obsessed with beating my body at
this game. I slowly cut back on what I ate each day. With every
portion I didn’t finish or meal I skipped, I told myself that I was
succeeding, and in turn, I felt good about myself.

Thus began a downward spiral of my becoming what is known as
anorexic. The dictionary defines it as “suppressing or causing loss of
appetite, resulting in a state of anorexia.” When taken to an extreme,
anorexia can cause malnutrition and deprive the body of the important
vitamins and minerals that it needs to be healthy.

In the beginning, I felt great - - attractive, strong, successful, almost
superhuman. I could do something others couldn’t: I could go without
food. It made me feel special, and that I was better than everyone else.
What I didn’t see was that I was slowly killing myself.

People around me began to notice my weight loss. At first they
weren’t alarmed; maybe some were even envious. But then the
comments held a tone of concern. “You’re losing too much weight.”
“Elisa, you’re so thin.” “You look sick.” “You’ll die if you keep this
up.” All their words only reassured me that I was on the right path,
getting closer to “perfection.”

Sadly, I made my physical appearance the top priority in my life,
believing that it was the way to become successful and accepted. As
an actress, I am constantly being judged by my appearance. The
camera automatically makes people appear heavier than they are. So I
was getting mixed messages like, “Elisa, you are so skinny, but you
look great on camera.”

I cut back on my food more and more, until a typical day consisted of
half a teaspoon of nonfat yogurt and coffee in the morning, and a cup
of grapes at night. If I ate even a bite more than my allotted “crumbs”
for the day, I hated myself and took laxatives to rid my body of
whatever I had eaten.

It got to the point where I no longer went out with my friends. I
couldn’t - - if I went to dinner, what would I eat? I avoided their
phone calls. If they wanted to go to the movies or just hang out at
home, I couldn’t be there - - what if food was around? I had to be
home alone to eat my little cup of grapes. Otherwise, I thought I was
failing. Everything revolved around my strict schedule of eating. I
was embarrassed to eat in front of anyone, believing that they would
think I was gluttonous and ugly.

My poor nutrition began to cause me to lose sleep. I found it hard to
concentrate on my work or to focus on anything for any length of
time. I was pushing myself harder and harder at the gym, struggling to
burn the calories that I hadn’t even eaten. My friends tried to help me
but I denied that I had a problem. None of my clothes fit, and it was
hard to buy any, since I had shrunk to smaller than a size zero!
Then one night, like so many nights before, I couldn’t sleep, and my
heart felt as though it might beat its way out of my chest. I tried to
relax, but I couldn’t.

The beating became so rapid and so strong that I could no longer
breathe. The combination of starving myself and taking pills to get rid
of anything that I did eat caused me to nearly have a heart attack. I
stood up, and immediately fell down. I was really scared, and I knew I
needed help. My roommate rushed me to the hospital, beginning the
long road to my recovery. It took doctors, nurses, nutritionists,
therapists, medications, food supplements... and most important, a
new sense of what was really true about myself to get back on track
with reality.

Recovering from what I did to my body and reprogramming the way I
think about myself has been a very slow and extremely painful
process. I still struggle with the effects of anorexia every day.
Although it has been a couple of years since that hospital visit, it is by
no means over for me. I must be honest with myself and stay
committed to being healthy.

I had used my anorexia as a means of expression and control. I used it
as my gauge for self-esteem and self-worth. It was my identity. Now I
realize that the way to success lies in my heart, mind and soul, rather
than in my physical appearance.

I now use my intelligence, my talents and acts of kindness to express
myself. This is true beauty, and it has nothing to do with the size of
my body. With my experience of trying to be “perfect” on the outside,
I had sacrificed who I was on the inside. What I know now is, we are
- - each and every one of us - - already perfect.

~ Elisa Donovan

Think that this is a book that you might like to read? Well send your name, address, and email to thecompulsivereader@gmail.com, and four lcuky winners will each get a chance to win one the titles! Contest ends on Friday, October 24th, so hurry and get your entries in!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cool Sites

Hey guys...remember that Books That Suck feature back in July? Well, here's a little something that kinda goes along with that...HarperTeen's Pitch Black website. The graphics are pretty sweet. Click here to view it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Since I first saw the amazing Nick and Norah movie last week, I've meaning to post the review of the book, which I read back when it first came out. Well, that was over a week ago, so this is a testament to my lack of productivity as of late...sorry! Bear with me guys!

Nick is trying to get over his ex and move on with his life with the help of his band. Norah is practical and tough, and looking for a guy who is into music, but not into her because of who her dad is. When Nick asks her to be his girlfriend for five minutes, rather than flat out refusing, she sees an opportunity of a ride home for her drunken friend and responds with a kiss. But Norah might have bitten off more than she can chew when she soon finds fifty bucks shoved at her by Nick's friends and a request to make sure he has a good time to help him get over his ex…

And so begins one wild, tumultuous, and exhilarating night. Both Nick and Norah's voices blend together to give vibrant life to an edgy, modern, and completely real novel that explores the unique connection that two people can share. Cohn and Levithan capture the vibrancy and urgency of lust and love, set against the spectacular backdrop of New York City's music scene, and aren’t afraid to imbue the novel with realistic dialogue, mannerisms, and topics that are relevant to teens today. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is a thrilling, hilarious read—as catchy as your favorite song, and as gritty and real as it gets, and it sure to bowl readers over.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fun Friday: Win a Copy of Catwalk by Deborah

Hey there guys,

Here's a little something that will get you through your Friday and into the weekend...a chance to win a copy of Deborah Gregory's Catwalk! Just leave me a comment before midnight tonight and I'll draw a winner tomorrow. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

October Book of the Month: Meet Jordanna Fraiberg

This week I have the pleasure to introduce you all to Jordanna Fraiberg, author of October's Book of the Month, In Your Room. She lives in LA, but grew up in Montreal. She studied British History and Literature at Harvard, and has traveled all over the world, for her studies, and when she played on a professional squash team.

Jordanna has an unbelievably cool website here, where you can learn more about her and her awesome book and its characters. Hope you have as much fun exploring it as I did!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman

For years, sixteen year old Eona has been living a secret life. Gifted with the ability to see the eleven invisible energy dragons that lend power to the Empire, she holds a very rare talent. But women who possess magic are scorned, which compels Eona to live her life under the guise of twelve-year-old Eon, a candidate for the position of apprentice to a Dragoneye, the human catalyst between the dragons and the Empire. But Eona will soon come to find that even harder than disguising her true identity will be navigating through the turbulent waters of court politics and choosing to do what is right...which includes being true to herself, no matter what the cost.

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn is a strange and intensely compelling read. Based off of Chinese and Japanese myths and legends, it is an exhilarating blend of mystery, suspense, and foreign culture and habits that will engross and entertain readers to no end. Eona's character is very honest, and despite her insistence at being considered male, her true voice and nature rings out clearly, making her a highly appealing character whose motives and struggles are completely relatable.

The story is slightly predictable in the first half of the book, but Goodman does an excellent job at drawing out the plot and artfully laying the foundation for the climax of the story. Eona's tale picks up a few surprising elements and the book goes out with a bang as political tensions reach their breaking point. The ending is heart stopping, and the complete cliff hanger will most certainly leave readers yearning for the conclusion of this smart and drama filled duet in the next book—whose title is too much a spoiler to reveal yet, but hopes to be just as riveting and breathtaking.
Eon: Dragoneye Reborn will be out December 26th, 2008!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The September Sisters by Jillian Cantor

Becky and Abby seem to be each other's worst enemy. Exactly two years and one day apart, these sisters are always at each other's throats, allowing petty fights and sibling rivalry to rule them—until the day Becky disappears. She's gone without a single trace, and Abby is left to watch as her family and her life shatters. Her father becomes condescending and focused on the effort to find her, and her mother withdraws within herself, becoming a shell of a person. Abby slowly finds solace in Tommy, her new next door neighbor. They form a tentative friendship that somehow gets them both through the rough spots. But even Abby recognizes that it is nearly impossible to move on without knowing whatever happened to Becky.

The September Sisters is a beautifully penned and emotional book. Abby is a wonderfully expressive and bluntly honest character whose questioning voice is not one that is easily evaded. Her story, told over the span of two years after her sister disappears, is one that is wrought with tension and heartbreak, but also love and hope. The September Sisters is as much a coming of age story as it is one of survival and Abby struggles to stay afloat as her life crashes around her—going to school and receiving her first kiss while struggling with her disintegrating home life and her unanswered questions. Cantor is an extremely sensitive and yet savvy writer, and aptly describes each and every dynamic aspect of the girls' lives, give the book a haunting and persistently real quality. Though the ending of the novel seemed slightly rushed, the resolution is one that is quite believable and will give readers satisfaction. Cantor's impressive debut is a beautiful and heartfelt novel that will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen, and should not be missed.
The September Sisters will be available from HarperTeen February 24th, 2009.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

October Book of the Month: In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg

Hello my charming book-ish pals,

It's October. For those of you who live in pats of the world that have normal weather, October means cold. I don't like cold. (Although it gives me a very nice excuse to wear my lovely navy winter trench coat!) My feet are freezing as I type and a fire has already been started in the woodstove. WINTER IS COMING! So as much fun as it is to talk about Christmas-y and cold books like Let It Snow (which comes out today, by the way), I am in no way ready for the holiday season...yet. I am still in the mood for a nice WARM, summery read. Enter In Your Room.

When Molly Hill's mom re-marries, she can't believe that she is being dragged on the honeymoon, to Boulder, Colorado to participate in a house swap with one of her stepfather's colleagues. Charlie Richards is also alarmed to hear that his moms intend to move him and his sisters to LA for the summer, and let a family that they hardly know inhabit their home. He's more comfortable on a bike on a mountain trail than in the streets of the city, and Molly believes that Boulder lacks the inspiration she needs to get her creative juices flowing. Both have resigned themselves to a long, boring summer. But when they find that they're staying in each other's rooms, a whole lot of mixed messages, late night IMs, misread signals, and long distance flirting is sure to ensue...

In Your Room was surprisingly candid and refreshingly humorous and human. The story is fast paced, and Fraiberg's clever writing downplays the predictability of the plot, forcing you to look at the novel with new eyes. Molly is an unpretentious character, but yet she has slightly selfish feelings about her mother's new marriage, and Charlie, despite being thoughtful, imaginative, and funny, has his faults as well. It's these imperfections in the lead characters that lend to the plot twists in order to In Your Room an enjoyable, quick, and relaxing read that you'll want to visit again and again.
In Your Room comes out two weeks from today, on the sixteenth, from Razorbill, so go here to pre-order now!
Also be sure to stop in every Thursday for some extra fun special things with Jordanna Fraiberg, the lovely author!
Do not let cold and wet and icky October get you down! Survive until Halloween! There will be candy! And then the Christmas season! But until then, In Your Room!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

2008 Cybils Awards

Hey guys,

Just a quick not to let you all know that The Cybils 2008 Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards nominations are open! These guys are really good at what they do, and have everything impeccably organized! I'm serving as a panelist for the fantasy and science fiction category, so go get your butts over there and start nominating! Here's the link. I'm looking forward to seeing your nominations!